Boys Tennis: Hilliard Bradley Jaguars eager for season of learning

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Bradley second-singles player Isaac Tawney prepares to serve during a match April 6 at Darby. Tawney won 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 as the Jaguars defeated the Panthers 4-1 in their season opener.

Coach Colleen Baker has a young but eager group of players in her second season leading the Hilliard Bradley boys tennis program.

Sophomore Neil Reddy starts at first singles, but the rest of the lineup likely will be in flux over the first few weeks of the season.

“Neil is our No.1, and he’s really quick on the court,” Baker said. “He has long legs and good reach along with powerful groundstrokes and a solid serve.

“I like that we’re mostly young, and that we have a good number of kids (29) in the program. Even those who haven’t played before have been willing to learn. I’m excited to see how they’ll grow this season and the seasons to come.”

The Jaguars opened with a 4-1 win April 6 over host Darby, as Reddy won his match 6-2, 6-2.

“I think I’ve improved my serve over the last couple of weeks,” Reddy said. “When I went indoors and played, that really improved my serve and it helped me outdoors as well.”

Senior Isaac Tawney played second singles against the Panthers and senior Luke Miller was at third singles, but Baker said the two may rotate between the courts.

Senior Alex Zakrzewski and freshman Adarsh Chitti played first doubles, while senior Ben Honeck and junior Jack Whetstone were at second doubles.

Sophomore Shayan Manoharan and freshman Craig Dixon also could see court time.

“We have a good mix of experience and young blood,” Baker said. “We’re still trying to find who best fits on the doubles courts. They all have some different skill sets, and we need to find the right combination.

“The biggest thing you look for when picking doubles partners is making sure that the skills complement each other. They have to move well and be able to fight for every single point.”

INSIDE THE JAGUARS

Coach: Colleen Baker, second season 

Next match: April 15 at Davidson

Key athletes: Luke Miller, Neil Reddy and Isaac Tawney

Panthers look to 

gain experience 

Despite returning just one player with varsity experience, 17th-year Darby coach Scott Nickel has high hopes for his team. 

Back is senior Krish Kondaveeti, who is playing first singles. 

“We are young and inexperienced, including with our sophomores playing their first high school season given last year’s canceled season, but our players are working hard every day to improve,” Nickel said. 

Pranav Kannan is at second singles, with Thomas Davis at third singles. Both are sophomores. 

Sophomore Vamsee Cheruvu and freshman Aidan Minogue are playing first doubles, with sophomore Siddharth Perabathini securing a second-doubles spot. Nickel said senior Xander Beckman and junior Dmitri Williams are competing for the other spot. 

“Going into the season, we know that this will be a rebuilding year,” Nickel said. “The emphasis will be on continued skill development and gaining match experience. It’s also a great opportunity for all of our new young starters to step up. We’re excited for the journey.” 

The Panthers opened with a 4-1 loss to Bradley on April 6 and a 5-0 loss to Dublin Scioto on April 7. 

Darby is competing in the OCC-Cardinal Division with Dublin Jerome, Marysville, Olentangy, Olentangy Berlin and Thomas Worthington. 

“Dublin Jerome and Olentangy are going to be particularly tough competition this year, but our players are looking forward to the challenge,” Nickel said. 

INSIDE THE PANTHERS 

Coach: Scott Nickel, 17th season 

Next match: April 15 at Berlin 

Key athletes: Thomas Davis, Pranav Kannan and Krish Kondaveeti 

—Frank DiRenna 

Wildcats under 

new leadership

Shannon Murlin is looking forward to her first season as coach at Davidson. She replaced Steve De Dent, who guided the Wildcats for eight seasons. 

Davidson opened with a 5-0 loss to Berlin on April 5. 

“We want to be over .500 for the season,” said Murlin, who previously helped coach the boys and girls teams at Weaver Middle School. “We want to continue to grow. I want to look at tennis in Hilliard at a younger age. … We want to get a little more experience at a younger level so when they come to middle school they know how to keep score.” 

Murlin, who is a 1999 graduate of Davidson and former player for the school, also has coached at the club level. 

Junior Hayes Houseworth, who has experience at the high school level, is playing first singles. 

“Hayes is probably the most seasoned and works really hard all year round,” Murlin said. “He plays at the Players Club.” 

Matthew Crawford is playing second singles, with Dylan Murlin at third singles. Both are freshmen, and Murlin is the coach’s son. 

Senior Michael Foster and junior Jonathan Goshima are playing first doubles, with junior Clay Hess and freshman Umair Qidwai at second doubles. 

“We’re definitely young,” coach Murlin said. “It’s a growing year with three freshmen. We only have one senior on the team. We have a great group of kids. They’re very coachable and working on improvements every day.” 

The Wildcats are competing in the OCC-Central with Bradley, Dublin Coffman, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Upper Arlington. 

Davidson faced Darby on April 14 and plays host to Bradley on April 15. 

“It’s competitive, but friendly, too, between all of us,” coach Murlin said. 

INSIDE THE WILDCATS 

Coach: Shannon Murlin, first season 

Next match: April 15 vs. Bradley 

Key athletes: Matthew Crawford and Hayes Houseworth 

—Frank DiRenna

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